Saturday, February 03, 2007

Benicia, CA - the capitol on wheels


Obviously it wasn't all work when I went home for the interview. My parents actually took time off (in our travels we discussed how many days vacation time they each had - unbelievable) and took some trips. After my interview we went to Benicia. Benicia is a cute little town on a bay in the bay area. It's east of San Francisco Bay on the Carquinez Strait. Benicia has an interesting history - full of politicians, bordellos and a serial killer. Going in reverse chronological order, the Zodiac Killer made his debut near Benicia. For those of you who don't know, the Zodiac Killer "hung out" in California - seemingly favoring Northern California. He wasn't active when I was in high school, but that was where I first heard of him. It was reported that he killed young teenagers while out on a date. In fact, his first victims were two kids out on their first date - one of them a first date ever.

In Benicia's more ancient history, Benicia was founded in 1847 and is the first city in California to be settled by Anglo-Americans (as opposed to Spanish missions, forts or trading posts). For 13 months from 1853-4, Benicia served as the third state capitol. It was one of the four locations known as the "Capitol on wheels." It is the only pre-Sacramento site to survive. This was also during the rough and tumble gold rush days, so literally right down the street from the capitol, "entertainment" abounded. You can pick up a pamphlet from the historic train station (pictured above) and go on a walking tour. The main street isn't that long, and boasts two surviving buildings that used to be bordellos, two additional hotels (one of them said to be haunted by Disappointed Mary), and lots of old bars - one of which was later frequented by Jack London. (Jack London worked on the Fish Patrol and wrote "Tales of the Fish Patrol" and "John Barleycorn" there.) After much lobbying (by the wives of the legislators), the capitol moved to a more refined location at Sacramento.

One more additional note: in the 1850's and 60's, the US military decided on a new pack animal - the camel. The Camel Barns housed 77 camels for the purpose. When the Civil War broke out - they dropped the project. As far as I know, they let the camels go, and years later they were still finding camels in remote areas.

Two of the bordello sitesThe old state capitol buildingThe outhouse next to the capitol. It's a double seater!Some of the original buildings. The last one is now a tea house.

1 comment:

ipgirl said...

wow, interesting travelogue of Benicia! It's cool you got to hang out with your folks while on your interview. All of mine have been pretty much 'go there and come back'

what does cowboy think about moving to CA?